Civil Rights Icons Featured In Regina King’s One Night In Miami

It strikes curiosity in people to know what types of conversations historical figures had in the 1960s. One Night in Miami offers that vision, with a couple of fictional twists in between.

The film centers around a gathering between notable Black historical figures of the 1960s—Muhammad Ali, a professional boxer; Malcolm X, a civil rights activist; Jim Brown, a fullback for the Cleveland Browns; and Sam Cooke, a soul singer—discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement. 

It takes place on Feb. 25, 1964 before and after Ali—who was known as Cassius Clay then— captured the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston in Miami Beach.

One Night in Miami is  Regina King’s directorial debut and premiered at the Venice Film Festival—the first Black female director to have a movie selected for the festival—on Sept. 7, 2020. The film is currently showing at Miami Dade College’s Tower Theater

It features Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcom X), Eli Goree (Muhammad Ali), Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown) and Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke).

The plot is straightforward. It takes place mostly at the historic Hampton House. With a lineup of historical giants, it would have been great to see more interactions. However, following historical accuracy and as the title suggests, it is appropriate for the film to show them spending a night together in Miami.

It’s an excellent screenplay, with each line catered accurately to each character’s personality, life, and thoughts. It was as if the lines were written by the icons themselves and the actors transformed into the figures. 

The cinematography, in combination with the costume and production design, set the scene for a 1960s based film. The color palette in the film focuses on warm colors—such as yellow, brown, and orange—which were all popular at the time, giving the movie a super 8mm film feel. The outfits worn by the cast and the objects surrounding the setting such as the buildings, cars and furniture make the audience feel as if they are immersed in the era. 

A lot of issues were tackled in the film but the racism they experience is a focal point. The characters all experience it in the film, such as not being accepted in someone’s house, being booed on stage or having their house burned down.

If there’s a word to describe the film, it would be inspirational. The movie focuses on what it was like being an anti-racism influence during the Jim Crow Era and it’s responsibility and dangers—a major theme presented in the film. All of the characters are memorable in their own way—whether it be through activism, singing, football or boxing—and they are all still remembered and revered to this day.

One Night In Miami will be released on Prime Video on Jan. 15.